What Are Bangers and Mash?

Plus how the dish acquired its name.

February 28, 2023
Homemade Bangers and Mash with Herbs and Gravy

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Homemade Bangers and Mash with Herbs and Gravy

Photo by: bhofack2/Getty Images

bhofack2/Getty Images

By Alice K. Thompson for Food Network Kitchen

Alice is a contributing writer and editor at Food Network.

It’s a comfort-food classic that just about everyone can relate to, but what exactly is bangers and mash, and how did it get that its name? Here’s your deep-dive into this iconic British and Irish dish.

What Are Bangers and Mash?

Bangers and mash is a dish of sausages (“bangers”), mashed potatoes and onion gravy popular in Britain and Ireland. Although often made at home, the dish is also a pub menu favorite and is sometimes referred to as “pub grub,” a term that’s synonymous with comfort food.

What Are Bangers?

The term “bangers” is British slang for sausages but is used almost exclusively for the sausages in the dish bangers and mash. Although a variety of sausages can be used, bangers are usually a mild, fresh pork sausage made with a bread filler and seasoned with spices that may include pepper, thyme, sage, nutmeg and mace and stuffed into a natural casing. They’re typically very light in color when raw and take on a deep bronze color after pan-searing. Cumberland pork sausages are a common banger and mash sausage but certainly don’t have a monopoly on the dish.

What Is Mash?

“Mash” is a colloquial term in the British Isles for mashed potatoes. Any kind of potato can be used, but typically it’s a starchy potato that’s peeled, boiled and mashed with butter and milk or cream. Irish versions of bangers and mash sometimes include cooked cabbage or kale in the mix for a type of mash known as colcannon.

What Type of Gravy Is in Bangers and Mash?

Onion gravy is the classic accompaniment to bangers and mash. The onions are often caramelized in the pan drippings from fried sausages and are then mixed with flour, stock and seasonings for a rich brown gravy.

Where Did the Name Bangers Come From?

Meat shortages during World War I led to sausages being made with more filler, usually larger quantities of bread and water. When heated, the water expanded quickly in these sausages, making them likely to explode from their casings, hence the British slang “bangers.”

Recipes for Bangers and Mash

Food Network's Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash

Food Network's Bangers and Mash

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2012, Television Food Network, GP. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2012, Television Food Network, GP. All Rights Reserved

Ina Garten’s version of the dish uses veal or chicken sausages and a tasty Yukon Gold mash. The sausages are baked on a sheet pan for an easy weeknight meal.

A dish of bangers and mash made with sausage, potatoes, cabbage, and carmelized onions

A dish of bangers and mash made with sausage, potatoes, cabbage, and carmelized onions

These include a bit of cooked cabbage in the potato mash, a distinctly Irish addition. Onions are cooked in the same pan the sausages fry in to take advantage of the flavorful drippings.

Chef Bobby Flay's dish of bangers and mash, as seen on Food Networkâ  s Beat Bobby Flay, Season 1.

Chef Bobby Flay's dish of bangers and mash, as seen on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, Season 1.,Chef Bobby Flay's dish of bangers and mash, as seen on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, Season 1.

Photo by: David Lang ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

David Lang, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

This recipe from Bobby Flay calls for homemade sausage patties. Rich Yukon Gold mash is marbled with a kale pesto, a nod to Ireland’s greens-flecked colcannon.

This image has been distributed to our partners.

This image has been distributed to our partners.

Robert Irvine puts a seafood spin on this iconic sausage dish. The recipe calls for mixing and stuffing your own shellfish sausages, but you could also sub a store-bought seafood sausage.

Looking for a versatile mash recipe? This three-ingredient (plus salt and pepper) version is a go-to.

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